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2.59pm More from Robert Francis QC’s statement on the publication of his inquiry into care failings at Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust:

He said: “Following discussions with the secretary of state for health, at his request I have agreed to hand my final report to him on 5 February 2013. I will then publish it on Wednesday 6 February shortly ahead of the report being laid before Parliament that day.

“I am making this information publicly available, so that core participants, witnesses and those following the inquiry are aware of its next steps.”

2.54pm In a new blog for HSJ, Pam Garside highlights some of the most innovative technology start-up companies in the healthcare sector. She writes: “The NHS has so much to benefit from these new technologies. The best innovative ideas that will transform the health service are likely to come from ‘the periphery’ of the system.”

2.40pm Robert Francis QC has confirmed his report on the Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust public inquiry will be published on 6 February.

In a press announcement this afternoon Mr Francis revealed he would share the report with health secretary Jeremy Hunt the previous day. Mr Hunt has delegated responsibility for publication to Mr Francis.

2.37pm @ShaunLintern tweets: BREAKING NEWS: Francis report will be published on Wednesday February 6.

1.55pm Care Quality Commission board member and whistleblower Kay Sheldon has posted on Twitter that Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has refused to extend her appointment on the CQC board.

Mrs Sheldon who spoke out to the Mid Staffordshire Public Inquiry tweeted today: “I thought it would be an appropriate gesture if Jeremy Hunt would agree now to extend my appointment on the CQC board. He’s refused.”

“Despite all the rhetoric, there is no doubt that whistleblowers will be tainted throughout their working lives.”

1.28pm A couple of other interesting opinion pieces have gone live on our website today. Michael White caught up with former Lib Dem care minister Paul Burstow, who is avoiding the potential pitfalls of leaving the cabinet with a flurry of activity championing the cause of carers.

Meanwhile, “the NHS is drifting into a world where key principles are under threat,” writes chair of the Socialist Health Association Brian Fisher. He argues competition and profit will be a disaster for the service’s patients, finances and ethics.

12.36pm: The NHS Commissioning Board has clarified that the three clinical commissioning groups with a large number of problems will be required to work with its own teams “providing intensive support” to them, they will not be required to appoint or take on any staff.

The CCGs have been given conditions described as “level IV” seriousness, which is described as meaning the board will provide support in the form of “insert[ing] or provide specific team or individual”.

However, the board has said this will involve its own teams providing “intensive support” to the CCGs. They will have to accept the support because of the legal directions.
The directions themselves require all three CCGs (Nene, Medway and Herts Valleys) to “provide all information, documents, records or other items and support requested by the board”.

They also include specific directions for particular CCGs:

  • Nene CCG “must use NHS Corby CCG as its lead commissioner for Kettering General Hospital Foundation Trust”, while “the board will oversee and supervise the development, application and discharge of NHS Nene CCG’s contract with Northampton General Hospital Trust and… must seek approval from the board prior to signing the contract with [the trust]”.
  • Medway CCG must show it has taken “appropriate steps to build its understanding and ownership of the financial plan”, and the board will “oversee and supervise the development of [its] financial plan”.
  • Herts Valleys CCG must seek the commissioning board’s approval of a new accountable officer appointment.

The directions have been published on the NHS Commissioning Board website.

10.56am The British Heart Foundation is lobbying for the introduction of UK wide testing for familial hypercholesteroleamia, the Guardian reports. The newspaper reports Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland already use a form of cascade testing that involves offering tests to family members of individuals who have been found to have the condition. The condition makes sufferers prone to suffer a heart attack in their 40s or 50s but this risk can be reduced by treatment with statins. Doctors estimate 1,000 lives could be saved if testing were rolled out in England as well.

10.50am Some other highlights from today’s papers:

The Times is reporting hundreds of women are dying needlessly because of avoidable delays in the diagnosis of ovarian cancer. The story comes from a study which shows women waiting months before seeing their GP with a third reporting delays and misdiagnosis.

The same paper is also reporting an expected increase in the number of men receiving positive prostate cancer tests as the population ages. Around 41,000 men are year are diagnosed with the disease currently compared to 15,000 a year 25 years ago.

10.47am Public health minister Anna Soubry caused controversy during an appearance before the Commons communities and local government committee yesterday.

HSJ today carries our sister title Local Government Chronicle’s report on how she caused the committee chair (who has a council background) some dismay by defending the government’s policy of keeping councillors off clinical commissioning group boards.

10.43am: Meanwhile, Ms Soubry also gave a forthright interview with the Daily Telegraph, in which she said she can “almost tell someone’s background by their weight,” and that there is a tendency for poor people to be overweight.

This is “deeply ironic”, she said, as when she was young, poor people were described as “skinny runts”. “When I was at school you could tell the demography of children by how thin they were. You could see by looking at their eyes.”

10.25am: Three clinical commissioning groups will be directed to take on a “specific team or individual” after failing authorisation tests by the NHS Commissioning Board.

The board decided NHS Nene CCG, NHS Herts Valleys CCG, and NHS Medway CCG had sufficient problems to mean it would need to use legal directions to instruct them to take on the staff, who will be expected to support their work and development. The decision for Nene, in Northamptonshire, comes as a surprise as the area had one of the most developed practice based commissioning groups.

It is not yet clear who the staff will be, what their exact task will be, or how long they will be expected to stay for. It is likely those issues will be decided by the commissioning board in negotiation with the CCGs.

HSJ reported a year ago that flying in managers was the commissioning board’s most likely approach to struggling CCGs, although the board could also consider even more dramatic measures such as removing their powers.

The announcement was made as part of the second wave of authorisation decisions this morning. Nineteen CCGs were authorised with no conditions, meaning they fully met all 119 authorisation criteria. A further 45 CCGs, in addition to the three with “direction”, have been authorised with conditions.

We plan to update the exclusive HSJ map of the new commissioning system to reflect the changes.

10.23am HSJ today reports on two significant developments in advance of the publication of the Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust report.

Ministers are considering creating a “blacklist” of NHS managers who preside over failure and would be prevented from working in the health service again, HSJ understands. A “negative register” would list the names of individuals who have been judged unfit to practise based on their previous performance.

Meanwhile, trust leaders have “formally and publicly” acknowledged that “pockets” of poor care are likely to exist in most NHS organisations, in an open letter ahead of the publication of the Francis report.

The Foundation Trust Network, which shared its letter with HSJ, said it constituted an attempt to “say publicly and collectively what individual trusts might want to say but are unable to”.

10.14am Cancer patients can now get vital treatment in just five minutes instead of two hours after a new injection procedure was trialled by a hospital. Cancer patients can now get vital treatment for non-Hodgkin lymphoma in just five minutes instead of two hours after a new injection procedure was trialled by a University Hospital Southampton Trust.

10.12am An extra £7m will be used to ease winter pressure on hospitals in Northern Ireland, it was revealed. Emergency departments and other short-term medical services will benefit after finance minister Sammy Wilson reallocated money from the Executive budget.

7.59am: Good morning, the peloton style of leadership works for cyclists and can work for the NHS says Clare Gerada. The peloton proves competition and cooperation can go together. She writes: “We need to move away from an environment where micro-managers demand targets and collaborate little.”